Tips to Protect Yourself From Sexual Harassment

posted by Chris Valentine

An estimated 81 percent of women reported experiencing sexual harassment in her work environment in a poll conducted by the Center on Gender Equity and Health. According to a poll conducted by Marketplace and Edison Research, one out of seven men report being victims of sexual harassment as well. In order to protect yourself as a victim of sexual harassment, it’s important to follow these tips.

Tip 1: Understand the Different Types of Sexual Harassment 

There are two different types of sexual harassment that an may be subjected to at his or her workplace: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. The law offices of Harrell & Harrell tell us that a hostile work environment refers to situations where sexual conduct is unwelcome, based on sex, and creates an abusive working environment. Under quid pro quo harassment, a person in a position of power forces an individual to accept their harassment as part of a condition of keeping their job or any benefits associated with their job, such as raises or promotions.

Tip 2: Know That Sexual Harassment Does Not Have to Be Sexual in Nature 

Comments made at work may still qualify as sexual harassment even if they are not referring to any sexual acts. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment also includes any “offensive remarks about a person’s sex.” A person who constantly makes negative remarks about women at work is guilty of committing sexual harassment.

Tip 3: Understand Work Force Policies Involving Sexual Harassment 

Your workplace should have a definite policy in place to help you address any sexual harassment that occurs. For example, there should be a clear chain of command to address if your supervisor has been engaging in sexual harassment. Your work place’s human resources office should also be available to you as a resource if you are a victim of sexual harassment. But difficulty can still arise in rule interpretation. Suddath Relocation, headquarted in Jacksonville, Florida, lists “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or the display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures” as grounds for harassment. This is a perfect example of a company trying to protect its workers, but what defines “unwelcome” and at exactly what point does an unwelcome advance become harassment? Speaking to your company HR department and having a clear understanding of policies is essential in protecting yourself in the workplace.

Tip 4: Take an Active Role in Creating a Harassment Free Work Environment 

Report any sexual harassment that you are witness to at work to your supervisor or human resource office right away. If you feel comfortable with confrontation, confront the offending party immediately and discuss with them why their behavior is not appropriate. Always document any harassment that you may experience in writing.

Tip 5: Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or An Employment Attorney in Your State 

If your workplace does not have a sexual harassment policy or is not being responsive to your complaints, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a state employment attorney. Many attorneys are willing to give you a free consultation in order to hear the facts of your case.

Tip 6: Keep Very Detailed Notes 

If you are being a victim of sexual harassment, make sure you keep very detailed notes on each occurrence, including the date and time it occurred and any witnesses that may have been nearby. Also keep a detailed description of any job evaluations or raises that demonstrate that you have been a satisfactory employee.

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